Salt intake: Mexican survey shows almost 90% are getting too much

By Stephen Daniells contact

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images / Iamthatiam
© Getty Images / Iamthatiam
Data from the SALMEX Cohort in Mexico City shows that salt intake for almost 90% of the people studied exceeded WHO-recommended daily intakes.

The cohort was also found to be consuming insufficient levels of potassium, while iodine intakes were adequate, according to findings published in Nutrients​.

“[P]rograms focused on reducing sodium intake to prevent hypertension could proceed without concern of proper iodine supplementation,”​ wrote the authors from the Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Médicas y Nutrición Salvador Zubirán in Mexico City and the US Agency for International Development in Washington, DC.

“Nevertheless, frequent national monitoring and surveillance will be required to assess the impact of changes to the food’s sodium content and the contribution of iodized salt from such processed foods. Additionally, our study confirms an expected positive correlation between Na intake and hypertension.

“These results confirm the need of a fully integrated educational approach to the current western alimentary behavior, which should include calorie reduction, sodium intake reduction, and potassium intake increase.”

The results indicate that need for food formulators to reduce the salt content of foods, creating opportunities for ingredient suppliers similar to other markets, like the US​.

Study details

The researchers analyzed urine samples and diet diaries for 727 adults participating in the Salt and Mexico (SALMEX) cohort study.

Results showed that the average sodium intake was 3.5 grams per day, and this was higher in men than women. Over 45% of the people had high sodium intakes (between 2 and 3.6 g/day), while 44% had excessive intake (over 3.6 g/day).

The World Health Organization (WHO) and Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) recommend consuming less than two grams per day of sodium (or 5 grams of salt) per day. Only 10% of participants actually met these recommendations, but 83% of the sample thought they were within the recommended intake levels.

“In addition to the excess–sodium intake, K [potassium] intake was less than half the daily recommendation (120 mmol/day),” ​wrote the researchers. “This translates to a high Na/K [sodium to potassium] ratio, typical of the modern western diet.

“Also, [blood pressure] was higher with higher sodium intake and subjects with [hypertension] had a higher sodium intake and Na/K ratio. These data suggest that guideline recommendations or consensus opinions of Na reduction and K increase are not being achieved in the Mexican population.”

Regarding iodine consumption, the researchers said it was notable that most participants in their study had adequate iodine intakes. Salt is the primary vehicle for iodine fortification in Mexico, and decreasing salt intake didn’t put participants at risk of iodine insufficiency.

“This shows that the current salt iodization program of Mexico is providing enough iodine to the population according to the current salt intakes,” ​they wrote.

Source: Nutrients
2018, 10​(7), 816; doi:10.3390/nu10070816
“Contemporary Dietary Intake: Too Much Sodium, Not Enough Potassium, yet Sufficient Iodine: The SALMEX Cohort Results”
Authors: O. Vega-Vega, et al.